Trident University International
Michael S. Hunter
Module 1 Case Assignment
ETH 301: Business Ethics
Dr. Steven Gold and Dr. Joel Kostman
August 8th, 2011
During the next few pages I will make an argument through utilitarian and deontological reasoning and explore the nature of privacy to answer the question; “Should Justin Ellsworth’s Parents have been given access to his email?” This is a very debatable question. It is my belief based upon my values and life experiences to take the position that his parents should not be given access to his e-mail.
First, let us consider the utilitarian aspect of the question. Utilitarianism, as defined by the notes under the Module 1 ...view middle of the document...
Deontology is defined by the idea of rights and duties, which are claimed against one another. Using deontological reasoning, one could assume that each right in of itself has a corresponding associated duty. In the Ellsworth case, Yahoo has the right to define their user agreement and the duty to follow the user agreement’s legal content by not releasing Justin’s email to his parents and destroying the data upon death of the user. Justin had a right to privacy and to retain his personal data in the form of electronic correspondence. Yahoo has the associated duty to protect his privacy and the data they stored on their servers. Personal email is just that, it is personal and not associated with any company or organizational account. While Justin’s parents may believe they have a right to his email as a form of his personal effects, they certainly have or had no way of knowing what his personal thoughts were. They also have a duty to respect his personal email for what it is or was, his personal ideas and thoughts not theirs. This leads us into further discussion about privacy and how it ties into what we should or can expect in regards to our personal privacy.
Privacy is defined as the interest that individuals have in sustaining a “personal space” free from interference by other people and organizations. Roger Clark further defines privacy of personal communications and privacy to personal data as closely related and suggests using the term “information privacy” when referring to a combination of communications and data privacy. What did his parents expect to gain through reading his personal email? Would they have learned something they wished they didn’t know? What if he was keeping a very private secret about his life and knew they would be devastated by finding out? There are many more questions than answers in regards to why his parents wanted access to his email. I wonder if they got what they thought they wanted in the end. I oppose the violation of anyone’s privacy based upon the principal that my private ideas and thoughts are just that. I experienced an unfortunate event growing up that has always been in the back of my mind to this day. While dating in high school, my girlfriend’s parents read her diary and found information that they were never meant to...